Radio Controlled, Must Call... What Does it All Mean?
A lot of oil and gas activity takes place away from the closest Starbucks, so if you’re new to driving back country roads, you may be unsure about driving radio-assisted logging roads, or how to read Must Call signs.
Roadways need a variety of signs, including km markers, directional, traffic, speed and radio controlled signs. Missing signs only increase problems, drivers are left to guess at speed limits, which direction has the right away, the radio frequency and more!
We’ve gathered some examples of road marking signs that we think you might come across on your back-road adventures.
Radio Assist Signs
Radio Assist/Radio Controlled & Road Entry Signs
Even if you’ve been driving back country roads for 20 years, you might still be unsure of what it means when you see signs that say “Now Entering Mile 86 Road Radio Frequency RR25.” You might be thinking things like “Do I need to have a radio if I want to drive on this road?” “Where do I get a radio if I don’t have one” “Should I turn around and use a different road?” So let us help with some of that uncertainty!
From logging trucks to heavy haul trucks to pickups, they have been using radios to broadcast their locations on back country roads for a long time, so don’t get too discouraged! It helps to avoid accidents and radios are required for anyone working out there. Since most people using these roads are at their workplace the term radio-assisted is used instead of radio-controlled to let you know that radios are optional and drivers should be aware of vehicles travelling unannounced.
Road Entry signs usually indicate if the road is radio controlled, or radio-assisted and include information like the radio frequency, what road you’re entering and if you’re driving “Up”/”Empty” or “Empty”/”Loaded.”
The first thing to learn is the difference between “Up” and “Down” (BC) and “Empty” and “Loaded” (AB).
You’re driving “Up” or “Empty” when the numbers on the KM markers you’re passing are going up. You’re driving “Down” or “Loaded” when the numbers on the KM markers you’re passing are going down.
“Down” or “Loaded” traffic usually have the right-of-way, with the exception of large trucks like logging trucks. If you’re driving “Up” or “Empty” you need to pay attention to where the other vehicles are.
So if you’re ever lost and unsure on which direction will take you back to the main road or highway, follow the KM markers going down and you’ll find your way back!
KM Markers & Must Call Signs
Kilometer Markers are typically found at every kilometer or every 5 kilometers, indicating the road you’re on, what mile you’ve reached, and if you’re going “Up/Empty” or “Down/Loaded.”
Every so often you’ll come across a Kilometer Marker that has “Must Call” written above the indicated mile or on a separate sign below. Must Calls are there to warn you that you’ll be driving on a dangerous part of the road, like a tight corner or blind spot, and that you must call for that designated mile.
If you’re in a smaller vehicle that either doesn’t have a radio or doesn’t have the right frequency, it’s best to either wait for another vehicle to carefully follow behind or slow right down and move to the far right of the road to avoid oncoming traffic. Don’t be scared if you have to hit the ditch, someone will be kind enough to help you out!
Bridge & Delineator Signs
Bridge and delineator signs go hand in hand, as they are frequently found near each other. Bridge signs are usually found on or near the bridge to indicate the weight limit, as well as a couple of kilometers away to give a heads up that a bridge is coming up.
Delineator signs come in to play when you reach the bridge, being found on either side of the bridge to warn you where the edges are, to prevent accidents. Delineators are a very effective guide at night and during crazy weather because they stay visible when the road/bridge is wet or covered.
Directional signs are an important part to finding the right facility the first time (not the second or third time!)
Commonly you will find signs that state the company or type of facility with the associated kilometers and an arrow to indicate the direction. You will find these signs on higher traffic roads.
By now you’ve probably figured out that driving back country roads aren’t quite the same as driving to the store for a jug of milk. You have to keep your wits about you and drive with extra caution, but now you hopefully feel confident enough to navigate your way around!